Except for his four legs and stubby tail, Chesty, the English bulldog mascot of the Marine Corps, is a bit like the average jarhead. He has that no-nonsense look, and he was always faithful to the Corps.
On Wednesday, Gen. James F. Amos, the commandant of the Marine Corps, will join other dignitaries in a retirement ceremony for Sgt. Chesty XIII, who has served honorably for five years.
The beloved 6-year-old pooch will retire Wednesday at the Marine Corps Barracks in Washington, the oldest post in the Corps, after an illustrious career shaking paws and representing the Corps at community events and Marine Corps parades.
He once caused consternation among Marine wives, however, for snarling and barking at then-Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta’s golden retriever, Bravo, during an event honoring the Pentagon chief.
“Chesty was actually promoted after that event. He wasn’t promoted because of it. It was just a coincidence,” said Staff Sgt. Brian Buckwalter, a Marine Corps spokesman.
However, the incident, which showed his pluck, raised his stature among his fellow “Devil Dogs,” as Marines are known as.
Retired Gen. James N. Mattis once called Sgt. Chesty XIII a “kindred soul.” Gen. Mattis was known for colorful quotes, such as “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”
“He’s popular. Everybody wants to see more Chesty. He’s been a good dog and a good mascot for us,” Sgt. Buckwater added.
Sgt. Chesty’s successor, Pfc. Chesty XIV, will be promoted at the ceremony to lance corporal and begin his career as the Marine Corps mascot.
At only 9 months old, Pfc. Chesty graduated boot camp earlier this summer and has been training as an apprentice to the top dog. He has completed obedience training, as well as military training.
The Marine Corps mascot tradition harkens back to World War I, when the Germans had called the attacking Marines “Devil Dogs.” In 1922, the Corps unofficially adopted the English bulldog as its mascot. The dog is always a purebred.
The name Chesty comes from the legendary Lt. Gen. Lewis B. ‘Chesty’ Puller Jr., who served in World War II and the Korean War, and is one of the most decorated Marines in history. He is the only Marine to be awarded five Navy Crosses, the second-highest military decoration for extraordinary heroism in combat by a member of the Navy or Marine Corps.